Stud Poker – Game Variants

Stud Poker itself is not a specific game of poker like Texas Hold'em is, but the name for a collection of games in which players receive a mix of cards dealt face-down and face-up. Unlike in Holdem and Omaha, players don’t share community cards, instead each player receives numerous cards of which they have to make the best 5 card combination.

For instance, in 7 card stud poker each player starts off with 2 cards face-down and 1 card face-up (open for you opponents to see). The betting action doesn’t necessarily start left of the dealer like in Holdem, but can begin with the person holding the highest or lowest card face-up (depending on the stud game played). Because of this, the player who has to open the pot first changes from round to round.

For example, in 7 card stud poker (high) the game starts with each player} receiving 2 cards face-down and 1 card face-up. The person holding the lowest face-up card has to put in a minimum bet. This betting round is called ‘third street’. After the third street every remaining player in the hand receives a second card face up, giving them a total of 4 cards. This is when the second betting round starts and is called ‘the fourth street‘ (referring to the fourth card dealt).

This repeats itself untill the remaining players have 2 cards face-down and 4 cards face-up. Finally the last card (referred to as ‘the river‘) is dealt face-down, giving each player a total of 7 cards (3 face-down and 4 face-up). This is also the final betting round and once complete the remaining players expose their face-down cards. The player who can make the highest 5 card combination is awarded the entire pot.

As you might have noticed, seven card stud poker is kind of a reversed Holdem. Because in Holdem players have to make the best hand using their own two cards in combination with the five community cards on the table (a total of 7 cards), while in seven card stud each player is dealt 7 cards out of which they have to make the best 5 card combination.

The history of stud poker games goes along way back compared to the history of many Holdem games. During the American Revolutionary War, the stud poker variant with 3 cards was a very popularpoker game. The five card stud variant (similar to the seven card stud game described above) became very popular amongst soldiers during the American Civil War. Seven card stud has a relative short history compared to the other version of the game and became more popular when casino’s started to offer poker in America.

Since the days when 3 card stud poker was the most popular game to play, many different version of stud poker have been created. Some examples are:

  • Caribbean stud poker: a game offered in most casino’s and is a version of stud poker where players play against the house and not each other (similar to a blackjack setup).
  • 8-or-better stud poker (aka Hi-lo): This game has the same setup as five or sever card stud, but not only does the highest hand win the pot, the player holding the lowest hand (under 8 high, no pair) also wins.
  • Missippi stud poker: Was invented to make seven card stud more suitable for pot-limit and no-limit games. It has one betting round less and in the showdown fase you will have 2 face-down cards and 5 face up cards (not the usual 4).
  • Mexican Stud: Various forms of five cards stud poker with added wild cards and a stripped deck, sometimes taking out the eights, nines and tens. It is often played with a very high ante and because of the wild cards and stripped deck it can be a truely crazy game with high ups and low downs.

We hope we were able to properly inform you about stud poker. If you’d like to give the game a go, (as to be expected from the best rooms in the world) PartyPoker offers variations of stud poker which you can play for either real or play money (to practise and have fun). 

Here is a clip from The CincinnatiKid (poker movie classic) in which they are playing some 5 card stud:

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